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Representatives of the European Social Fund took stock of the work and the impact of the ESF Roma Inclusion Learning Network
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02/02/2015
FSG Internacional

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Representatives of the European Social Fund took stock of the work and the impact of the ESF Roma Inclusion Learning Network<br>

Representatives of the European Social Fund of several countries make stock in Brussels of the work and the impact of the ESF Learning Network “Reinforcing Policy Learning for Roma Inclusion” (Euroma +)

The Brussels event brought together the heads of the European Social Fund (ESF) and political inclusion of Roma in seven European countries, as well as representatives of the European Commission, the Agency for Fundamental Rights of the European Union (FRA), the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee.

 

The ESF Learning Network “Reinforcing Policy Learning for Roma Inclusion” (Euroma +), led by the Spanish ESF Managing Authority and that brings together the Heads of the European Social Fund in eight European countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovak Republic and Spain), aimed at more inclusive Operational Programmes in the next programming period of the ESI Funds (2014-2020) with the Roma, the continent's largest ethnic minority and at the same time suffering greater exclusion. This network complements and works in parallel with the EURoma Network (European Network for Social Inclusion and Roma), which since 2007 works to promote better use of Structural Funds to improve the effectiveness of policies aimed at the inclusion of the Roma.

The Fundación Secretariado Gitano was in charge of the Technical Secretariat of the Network.

 

Throughout the two years of functioning of EURoma+, the Network has had an impact on the planning of the new programmimg period in the partner countries. There has been progress in approaches, such as the inclusion of Roma population in the operational programmes, a general awareness of the importance of applying an integrated approach, both in terms of interventions and of combination of funds or a positive clear trend to move towards projects with an increased length and financial allocation, which in principle should have a higher potential to achieve a real social change.

 

EURoma + has achieved its goal of having an impact that leads to a qualitative change in the planning period, and now the biggest challenge is the implementation, and hopefully EURoma will be the support that countries need.

 

Final Conference in Brussels

On January 23rd 2015, the ESF Roma Inclusion Learning Network “Reinforcing Policy Learning for Roma Inclusion” held its closing conference in Brussels, hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

The Brussels event brought together the heads of the European Social Fund (ESF) and political inclusion of Roma in seven European countries, as well as representatives of the European Commission, the Agency for Fundamental Rights of the European Union (FRA), the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee.

In her intervention, Andriana Sukova-Tosheva, Director of Social Market Economy in Member States-ESF, on behalf of the European Commission, stressed the importance that the Commission pays to the inclusion of the Roma population, how it was proved by the presence of the European Commissioner of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the launch event of this Network on May 2013. She underlined the added value of a Network which permits an exchange of practices and knowledge, as a key element to a better use of the Structural and European Investment Funds for the Roma inclusion. She also mentioned the favorable framework created with the allocation of 20% of the ESF budget to social inclusion and combating poverty and she stated that the Member States have now the responsibility to put it into practice.

Jesús Ruíz de Cenzano, ESF General Deputy Director of the Spanish ESF Managing Authority, stressed that the network has helped the management authorities of the European Social Fund of the 8 partner countries to reconsider the strengths and weaknesses of the model of incorporating the inclusion of the Roma population in the new operational programs. He reminded that the objective of EURoma+ Network was to promote a shared process among partner countries to jointly identify the elements to improve the use of the European funds for the Roma inclusion.  He also mentioned the EURoma Network, led by Spain since 2008, which has contributed significantly over the years to put the issue of Roma on the agenda of the Managing Authorities of the European Social Fund; the idea of the new network, EURoma+, has been to reinforce and complement the work of EURoma to specifically support the planning of the programming period 2014-2020.

On behalf of the Spanish ESF Managing Authority, Marta García, provided an overview of the main activities of the project (both at national and transnational level), in the last two years. Among them, it is worth stressing the launch event organised in Brussels in May 2013; the country by country visits to each Member States gathering relevant stakeholders in order to analyze the lessons learned during the 2007-2013 programming period and the plans for the 2014-2020 period; the Joint Report on the use of Structural Funds for Roma Inclusion build upon the country by country visits; the two transnational workshops on Monitoring and evaluation of programs and projects aimed at the Roma community in the framework of the ESI Funds  and on How to mainstream Roma inclusion in general programmes, projects and interventions.

Ms Carolina Fernández, of the EURoma Technical Secretariat, shared the main results and findings of this Network, making a brief analysis of the 2014-2020 planning process based on the learnings of the 2007-2013 programming period. She underlined, among others, a greater commitment from the Member States with regard to the Roma inclusion of Roma in Ops, progress in the programming / planning, but least progress in terms of implementation and results, little alignment between policies and funds, limited increase of the type of funds used, the existence of administrative burdens or the need to expand the areas of intervention in the next programming period.

In the first part of the debate, the participants reviewed the planning process of Pas and Ops, mainly  how did the experience and learning of the previous programming period (2007-2013) fed into the new period (2014-2020) and the changes that have been made to improve the impact of European funds on the Roma population. Albert Nemeth, Director General of the Section ESF Management from the Slovak Republic, shared the experience of his country, which has introduced a number of changes and improvements with a greater focus on results.

 

In the second part, participants discussed on how to better implement what has been planned, as in the previous programming period it emerged that the biggest challenge is to implement what has been planned. The discussions focused on the two issues of the transnational seminar.

 

In the last part of the conference, the country partners stressed the importance of this Network in a key moment, which began in the plannification and now ends with the beginning of the implementation of the programmimg period 2014-2020 and which provided an overview of the models in each partner country and at the same time made them rethink and reflect on their own models of inclusion of the Roma population in the Ops.

 

For more information on the activities of the Network, please contact the Technical Secretariat at: ESFRomaInclusionNetwork@gitanos.org 

 

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